Apparently Steven Soderbergh was feeling kinda funny one day and decided to make a movie about insane people and recorded it all on his iPhone. I can appreciate a guy who follows through with whatever stupid shit he comes up with.
First things first, Claire Foy was pretty good in this. Not Oscars-good, but good enough to make me think “Yeah, I’d like to see her in more things.” Otherwise, Jay Pharoah was surprisingly likable, as the only experience I have with him otherwise is SNL, which isn’t exactly a high-end platform for acting. People act “realistically” (almost not required here) enough to empathize with their situations and whatever else.
Upon the subject of “realism,” Unsane is what I assume to be a metaphor for the entrapment victims of stalking feel while they’re being stalked—or so they think. Lots of paranoia and dimming the reliability of the characters’ (or more just Claire Foy) understanding of their setting. With this in mind, the audience is asked to accept many strange or
hilariously unrealistic events that occur to further boost that feeling of isolation. In this vein, the movie accomplishes an atmosphere worthy of the title “Thriller,” as I was at least aware that I was feeling unnerved.
Realism is also where the film falters. It tries to make itself seem credible and realistic to better appreciate the “This could happen to you!” vibe—and I’m not arguing that that’s how it wants to make you feel. What I’m suggesting is that this film either wants to be realistic enough to be taken seriously or absurd enough to be taken as metaphor; Soderbergh seems to have difficulty choosing. I initially expected this to frame the perspective of the lead to be more vague, but at some point, her fears become realized and the audience can then suffer from the same trauma as she does. While I like this for the fact that it furthers the feeling of hopeless entrapment, it also makes the film less interesting overall. A straightforward path to the ultimate conclusion, with the entire foundation of her situation being chalked up to E V I L C A P I T A L I S M!
And really, that’s all there is to it. Quirky in its darkness, but all-around pretty straightforward. Unsane is a surprisingly sane approach to a traumatic situation with a semi-fantastical approach to a semi-realistic conflict. How’s that for sentence structure? Whether it was filmed on an iPhone or the biggest, baddest camera Hollywood, NASA, or the entire earth can afford, it’s very dumb in its sophistication.
Final Score: 5.5/10
The rating for all other films can be found at Letterboxd.
For more, check out the March of the Movies Archive!